What happened? The last I knew it was October, the leaves were turning, and I was putting Halloween lights on my indoor flamingos (the flamingos are a story for another time). The Kinsey Scale was released in early November and the next thing I knew, Thanksgiving whizzed by. Now it’s December, the days turn full dark by 5 p.m., and Christmas is right around the corner. Emergency measures were called for and so now the Christmas tree is up and the flamingos are sporting winter lights that remind me of snowflakes.
I bring you an (unhappy) holiday excerpt from Serpentine Walls today, but first, some updates on what I’m writing and reading.
Writing got off to a slow start this year, so I’m happy to have released The Kinsey Scale and gratified at the positive response my fun college story has received.
I also completed the next story in the series this year. The Player’s Protégé is currently in edits and will be released by Dreamspinner in 2019. Here is the working blurb for The Player’s Protégé:
College senior Jerry Helstrom is a survivor. Bullied mercilessly as an out gay boy growing up in Texas, he survived by being fierce. He knows his worth and doesn’t suffer fools lightly. Jerry has close friends and a sweet ex-boyfriend, and he’s not wanting for sexual partners. But he keeps his heart so hidden he’s forgotten he has one. When his friends persuade him to help Arlo Barnes become a player by betting him he won’t be able to, Jerry takes on the challenge and fast finds himself drawn to his sexy mentoree. Jerry may be winning the bet to turn Arlo into a player, but he’s in danger of losing his newly-discovered heart.
College junior Arlo Barnes wants to make up for lost time. Arlo is sweet and strong, a caregiver type who has a black belt in martial arts. He’s been dumped by his only boyfriend and needs help in getting himself out there. Enter Jerry Helstrom, player extraordinaire, and happy to help Arlo with some hands-on sex coaching. Jerry encourages Arlo to ask for what he wants, in sex and in life—something Arlo struggles with. The struggle deepens when Arlo discovers that what—or who—he truly wants is the seemingly unattainable Jerry Helstrom.
I’m currently working on the third Campus Connections story which will feature Tyrone Johnson from the first two books.
A Little Side of Geek by Marguerite Labbe
Sweetness! I love that there are no major crises in this slow-burn novel about a gamer geek artist and a chef. It’s a story about an unlikely couple who gradually let go of their fears and differences. Labbe takes her time unfolding the story but it never drags. There’s a lot of family drama involved but not the typical homophobic kind. I fell in love with both guys. I’m delighted that this sweet book is the beginning of a series. The next book is on pre-order and will be released in January and there is a third one in the works.
UNHAPPY HOLIDAY EXCERPT
How about an angsty excerpt from Serpentine Walls, my New Adult novel set at the University of Virginia? Pete Morgan’s parents have split up and this is the first Christmas with his father not around. In one excruciating scene, Pete and his siblings have a Christmas dinner with their father and the woman he’s left their mother for. Here’s a taste:
“TELL me again why we’re going to this,” Pete said to Missy as he drove into the parking lot.
“Because Dad wants to spend the day after Christmas with his beloved children?”
“And make us spend time with him and his mistress? Charming.” Aidan came to his mind, sprawled on the Lawn in his black tee, saying “charming” after Pete told him about the divorce.
“Dude, do you have any money I can borrow?” Nate asked from the backseat.
“Me and Mooney are going to the midnight showing of Monsters, Inc. in 3-D, and I don’t have any cash.”
“Yeah, I’ve got some.”
They walked into the lobby of the fancy apartment building in Tyson’s Corner that Dad had moved into with Mallory this past September.
“What floor?” Pete asked Missy, who reached around him and pushed an elevator button in reply. He fished a twenty out of his pocket and handed it to Nate. “Don’t spend it all in one place.”
At the door to Dad’s apartment, they paused. Pete gave Missy a funereal glance, and she whispered to him, “Let’s just get through this, okay?” He knocked on the door.
Mallory opened it with a wide smile, standing back for them to enter. She was wearing a festive outfit—a red-and-green plaid blouse shot through with silver and gold thread, bright-green turtleneck, and black velveteen pants. Add in her sparkling red earrings and the gold barrettes in her red hair, and the effect was like a shiny but overdressed Christmas tree. She flicked her gaze over the three of them in their jeans and casual tops.
“Come on in. Gary, the kids are here,” she called. “He just got back from Red, Hot, and Blue. I hope barbeque is okay.”
“Yum,” Nate said, while Missy gave a quick nod and Pete could barely manage a shrug.
Despite her smile, Mallory appeared nervous. “Um, come in and sit down.” She gestured to the living room, where a small artificial tree stood in the corner and a gas fire flickered in the fireplace. A Kenny G. CD, what Pete liked to call “faux jazz,” was playing in the background. A small pile of tastefully wrapped presents sat under the tree, and the coffee table held platters of cheese and crackers and a bowl of mixed nuts.
They followed her in, Pete and Missy standing in the center of the room while Nate made a beeline to the coffee table, grabbed some nuts, and shoveled them into his mouth.
“Help yourself,” Mallory told him belatedly. “What would you all like to drink?”
Before they could answer, Dad entered and boomed out, “My progeny! So nice of you to grace your dear old dad with a visit!” He was wearing a dorky tie with snowmen on it, and he came up behind Mallory and put his arm around her waist. “You’ve met my three youngest, right, babe?” he inquired, bending his head toward her.
“Of course, what kind of a silly question is that?” She laughed—a tinkling, girlish titter that made Pete want to throw up. He noticed Missy staring at Dad’s hand on Mallory’s hip. “We saw Pete in Charlottesville, and I met Missy and Nate at his basketball game, remember?”
“Okay, good. I can never keep track, what with everyone going in different directions these days.” He and Mallory smiled at each other, seemingly lost in their own world.
Hope your holidays are happier than Pete’s and talk to you next year,
After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.
CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her family supports her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.
CJane is the author of the award-winning Serpentine Series, New Adult contemporary novels set at the University of Virginia. Serpentine Walls was a 2014 Rainbow Awards finalist, Aidan’s Journey was a 2015 EPIC Awards finalist, and Sex, Love, and Videogames won first place in the New Adult category in the 2016 Swirl Awards and first place in Contemporary Fiction in the 2017 EPIC eBook Awards.